The man hadn’t shown up in the restaurant for two weeks now. Given he’d never missed breakfast for the last seven years, she knew she had cause to worry.
She was about to start asking around when her phone rang. Seeing it was a new number, she reluctantly received it. What the caller revealed made her eyes smart with tears.
An Incredible Calling
Many people across the globe don’t consider working as a waitress ideal. Some look down on the occupation, extending these feelings to the waitresses serving them every day.
For Eva Gonzalez, working as a waitress was an incredible calling. Although the job was demanding at times, it made her smile every day. She didn’t know how much it would change her life.
Living The Dream
As a waitress working in Kansas City, Eva had seen all types of people come for a meal or drink. She’d served truckers, teachers, bikers, and law enforcers to kids, college students, and whole families.
But none of these people ever matched Carl, the veteran who’d frequented the restaurant for the entire time Eva worked there.
Their Unique Relationship
Carl’s relationship with Eva had been a unique one. The first time they met, Eva was a novice waitress trying to make enough tips to pay overdue bills.
Although Carl was older than Eva by more than fifty years, her heart immediately warmed to him. She knew what was happening was unexplainable, and she could attribute this to one glaring fact about Carl.
A Sour Mood
Although Carl was advanced in age, he had the sourest mood Eva's ever known. For Carl, nothing was ever good enough.
The first time Eva served him, he’d complained about how slow her service was. He’d grumbled that the food was soggy, and the restaurant was cold. Eva thought it would stop there, but it got worse.
Carl demanded to see Eva’s manager. He complained about her interactions with him, claiming she was too friendly and smiled a lot.
Although Eva felt like she should be offended by Carl’s remarks, she found his presence and comments endearing. Her perspective on the matter would birth the most interesting platonic relationship in her life.
A Sad Realization
Carl and Eva continued interacting as the days blurred by. Eva noticed none of her coworkers ever bothered with the man. They’d rarely served him before Eva started working at the diner.
This was because of Carl’s foul mood, which the other waitresses disliked. Eva found it sad that the diner seemingly refused to show Carl the same love it offered other customers. She would change all of it.
Making Him Feel At Home
Eva made it her business to make Carl feel at home. Although his nasty attitude didn’t relent, she treated him like her family.
As the years went by, Carl began having conversations with Eva. He’d talk about his time around the world as a soldier, giving Eva first-hand accounts of his adventures. But although he was openly talking to Eva, one thing remained the same.
A Fantastic Routine
Carl still maintained his sharp tongue. He’d constantly complain about everything Eva did, and although seven years had passed, he didn’t show her any form of affection.
For Eva, everything had become a fantastic routine. She loved everything about Carl, from his constant grumbling and complaining to his gripping stories. While interacting with Carl, she’d realized something.
The main reason Eva loved Carl was how much he reminded her of her late grandpa. Eva moved to Kansas when she was five with her grandparents.
Her parents had sadly passed on a year before, and with no close family willing to take care of her, her grandparents stepped up. But life in Kansas wasn’t the kindest then.
Her Life Before Everything
Before moving to Kansas, Eva had grown up in Oaxaca, Mexico. She’d been brought up in a loving Spanish-speaking household, with her parents instilling in her the importance of heritage and family ties.
They lived as one big happy family, and although Eva didn’t know it then, this family setup would influence her relationship with her friends, coworkers, and Carl.
New To Kansas
Eva found it hard to acclimate to the new world she was suddenly introduced to as an immigrant in Kansas. She’d been used to living among seventy or so family members. Now she was reduced to living with her grandparents.
Although her grandma used to work from home, her grandpa would leave in the morning to work as a chef in one of the best restaurants in the city. Eva rarely talked to him, and there was one reason for this.
Eva’s grandpa was among the strictest people Eva ever knew. Their conversations usually revolved around her school work, her training in English, and her homework.
When they’d finish these short conversations, he’d tell her to continue working hard and go to bed. But being grumpy was only part of why he was so similar to Carl.
They’re So Much Alike
Like Carl, Eva’s grandpa always complained about stuff. Eva never knew he did it at first because he rarely complained at home. She only became privy to the situation when her grandma took her to her grandpa’s restaurant one day.
What she saw that day made the little fear she had over her grandpa evolve into a crippling dread that rooted her to her seat.
He’s In His Element
Eva’s grandpa was like a war general in the kitchen, hurling out orders and reprimanding his cooks for poor work. If he was usually a lion at home, he was a riled firebreathing dragon in the restaurant.
Eva had been scared of seeing him like that. When her grandmother told her she’d be spending some afternoons at the restaurant, her heart dropped to her feet.
Returning To The Restaurant
The second time Eva went to the restaurant, she saw how harsh her grandpa could be. But she realized that although he was seemingly mean to his coworkers, he never brought that energy to where she was.
He would come and ask her if she was alright or needed snacks. He’d send over a glass of milk or juice and sometimes come to sit by her during his breaks. One day, all this changed.
Eva had been spending her afternoons with her grandpa for almost a month when he asked her something she never expected.
“Would you like to know how to cook, nieta?” he asked. His face was devoid of emotion, his dark eyes boring so deep into her she shook. Her answer made him frown.
This Won’t Be Easy
“Yes, abuelo,” Eva said, and her grandpa frowned. “This won’t be easy,” he told her. But he didn’t know that in the month Eva had been sitting with him, she’d been watching him run the kitchen.
Her fear had mellowed down during this time, replaced by a burning curiosity that made her analyze everything that happened in the kitchen. “It’ll not be easy,” Eva concurred. “But nothing good ever is.”
Hard Work Pays
Eva started taking cooking classes from her grandpa. She was still five, learning all that her young mind could grasp. She’d not expected her grandpa to go easy on her, and the man never did.
Although she didn’t handle any sharp objects and hot ingredients, and utensils, her grandpa would turn red with anger when she did something wrong. He would call her out loudly, complaining about everything she did. But as the weeks went by, Eva noticed something.
Making Him Proud
Whenever she messed up her answers to his questions, he’d fume and correct her. He’d still seethe and add more complexity to her response when she got it right.
Eva noticed that a mask of pride, though hidden, would take her grandpa’s face throughout all these moments. So when Carl displayed the same behavior, Eva quickly picked on his patterns and saw that he was proud of her.
A New Realization
Such a realization made Eva adore her time with Carl even more. She’d never had the chance to sit and talk to her grandpa as a grown-up and saw her time with Carl as a chance to do just that.
She’d cook for him, going to the extent of cooking special meals that she’d come up with. Although Carl would complain, he’d clear up his plate and ask for more.
History Repeats Itself
The relationship between Eva and Carl went strong for seven years. Eva would talk to him over the counter as she prepared his meal.
She’d send milk and juice docked from her paycheck to him and sit next to him during her breaks. Eva would remember when her grandpa did the same with her and smile in these instances. But one day, everything changed.
He Doesn’t Show Up
The morning everything changed and seemed as normal as any other. The only difference was Carl didn’t show up. Eva tried to ignore it, but she knew something was wrong deep down.
Her boss commented on the man’s seat being empty. Even she seemingly knew the diner felt empty without Carl. The second and third days were the same, and by the weekend, Eva knew Carl wasn’t showing up. Where was he?
Worry set over Eva when Carl didn’t show up on Monday. He never missed Mondays, given the diner’s special, a peach cobbler that was his favorite dish.
Eva made up her mind to go to the home where Carl stayed. What if he’d been sick all this while, and she didn’t visit him? He couldn’t be alone at such a horrific time, especially in his advanced years.
She’s Going To Look For Him
Eva was about to leave the store when her phone rang. As she didn’t recognize the number, she set her phone aside. She only picked it up the second time it rang.
“Good evening, ma’am,” the caller began. “Is this Evaline Gonzalez?” “Yes,” Eva answered, taken aback by the caller’s formal tone. What the caller shared would make her breath hitch.
The Caller’s Identity
The caller was Carl’s lawyer. He revealed that Carl had passed away that previous week. He continued talking, but Eva couldn’t hear a thing. A loud buzzing screamed in her ears, and her eyes blurred with tears.
Pain exploded within Eva’s heart, and she let out a silent cry where she stood. Her boss saw her and came running. “What is it?” she asked.
“Carl,” Eva stammered, still reeling from the news. How could Carl be gone? He’d been so healthy this last month and had been the sweetest he’d ever been in the previous seven years.
“He left a few things in your name,” the lawyer’s distant voice said over the phone. “Would you mind meeting me tomorrow morning to go over his will?”
“Carl had no next of kin,” the lawyer said immediately after Eva sat down. “He was a war veteran with a lot of funds saved up.”
The lawyer leaned back, adding, “Some of those funds he wants us to donate to a veteran’s charity, and the rest he’s giving to you.” He leaned in, “You must understand, this is no small amount, Miss Gonzalez.”
“With all due respect, sir,” Eva said with a sniffle. “I don’t think I care that much.” Her heart still ached, and she didn’t know what she’d do now that one of her closest friends was no more.
“I understand you are grieving,” said the lawyer. “But these formalities are crucial.” He slid a document to Eva and said, “Mr. Hemsworth left this amount in your name.”
Need I Say More?
“Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars,” the lawyer said across from Eva. “He also left you a 69’ Charger. It’s in mint condition, in case you’re wondering.”
“Why?” Eva asked, her voice hoarse from crying through the night. The lawyer pulled another document out of his file and read the first line, which was Carl’s own words, “To my dear and only friend, Eva Gonzalez.” He returned the document, “Need I say more?”